Springing into Fall

By Olia Golovkina
Springing into Fall

By Olia Golovkina

Whether you're planning a large barbeque or a cozy private party, design an unforgettable Labor Day with these truly unique entertaining ideas.

Cereal Isn't Just For Breakfast

Chef Kristina Vanni knows that the most familiar ingredients, arranged in just the right way, can make for the most stunning dining centerpieces. Since age 12, when she became a finalist at the Pillsbury Bake-Off, Vanni has been combining flavors both sweet and savory for various culinary competitions, television appearances, food magazines, cookbooks, and her online blog. She has received numerous awards from Martha Stewart, Betty Crocker, and Kraft, among others. Vanni was also named "Hot Chef 2009" by the National Restaurant Association, and was awarded first place at the National Beef Cook-Off for her grilling ingenuity.

But even at this stage in her career, this chef can still demonstrate that in fundamentals, she is an expert. Impress any eater on Labor Day with the following gourmet bites—Chef Vanni's original recipes—made from none other than classic cereals like Post Shredded Wheat and Fruity Pebbles. They're truly one-of-a-kind, and are sure to make your Labor Day soiree stand out. kristinavanni.com

Crab Cakes with Sriracha-Lime Mayonnaise 

Prep time: 20 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Serves 6, 2 crab cakes per person




Crab Cakes:

1 pound crabmeat

1/3 cup green onions, chopped

1/4 cup shallots, minced

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 cup ground Honey Bunches of Oats Honey Roasted cereal, divided use

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3/4 cup plain Panko crumbs

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 large egg, beaten

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, for frying, or more as needed


Sriracha-Lime Mayonnaise:

6 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce

1 teaspoon grated lime zest




In a food processor, grind cereal into a fine powder.  In a large bowl, mix together crabmeat, green onion, shallots, lime juice, mayonnaise, 3/4 cup of the ground cereal, salt and pepper.


Combine Panko crumbs and remaining 1/4 cup of ground cereal in a shallow bowl, flour in another bowl, and beaten eggs in a third bowl.  Form crab mixture into cakes, using 1/4 cup measure for each.  Dust crab cakes with flour, coat with beaten egg, then coat with Panko and cereal mixture.  Place each cake on a baking sheet.


Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, cook crab cakes until crisp, about 4-5 minutes per side, adding more vegetable oil as needed.  Transfer cakes to paper towels to drain.


For Sriracha-Lime Mayonnaise, stir together all ingredients and serve with crab cakes.




Grape-Nuts Cauliflower Tots


Prep time:  45 minutes

Total time:  1 hour 30 minutes

Serves 6, 6 tots per person




6 cups cauliflower florets (from a 2-pound head of cauliflower)

1/2 cup Grape-Nuts cereal

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 large egg

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Olive oil cooking spray




In a large pot, boil cauliflower until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.  Drain cauliflower in a strainer and shake to remove all excess water.  Return to pan and mash the cauliflower with a potato masher.  Allow to cool about 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor combine Grape-Nuts cereal with cayenne pepper and process until finely ground.  Pour into a shallow dish and set aside.


In a large bowl combine mashed cauliflower, flour, Parmesan cheese, egg, onion powder, salt and pepper.


Preheat oven to 400°F.  Cover a large baking sheet with non-stick foil and lightly coat with olive oil cooking spray.


Using a 1-tablespoon measure, scoop the cauliflower mixture and form into a "tot" shape with your hand.  Carefully roll in ground Grape-Nuts mixture and place on prepared baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.


When all of the tots have been formed, coat with another light mist of olive oil cooking spray.


Bake, turning once halfway through, until browned, 35 to 45 minutes.



Thai Coconut Shrimp with Sweet and Spicy Chili Dipping Sauce 


Prep time:  15 minutes

Total time:  25 minutes

Serves 4, 4-5 shrimp per person




Coconut Shrimp:

1/2 cup Post Shredded Wheat cereal, crushed (about 1 big biscuit)

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 egg whites

1 pound large peeled and deveined fresh shrimp, tails attached (16-20 size)


Sweet and Spicy Chili Dipping Sauce:

1/4 cup sweet chili sauce

1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Sriracha

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil



Lime wedges





Preheat oven to 400°F.  Cover a large baking sheet with non-stick foil, set aside.


In a medium bowl, combine crushed Post Shredded Wheat cereal, shredded coconut, salt, onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.


In another small bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy.


Holding shrimp by the tail, dip first into the egg whites (shaking off any excess) then dip into cereal and coconut mixture.  Lightly press coating onto the shrimp, ensuring all sides are covered.  Place shrimp on prepared baking sheet.


Bake 5 minutes on each side, or until shrimp are cooked through and the coating is lightly browned.  Garnish shrimp with a squeeze of fresh lime and cilantro sprigs.


For Sweet and Spicy Chili Dipping Sauce, combine sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, Sriracha, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Serve with the shrimp.




Fruity Pebbles Confetti Ice Cream Squares


Prep time: 30 minutes

Total time: 2 hours 30 minutes, or overnight

Serves 16, 1 square per person




1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 cup Fruity Pebbles cereal, divided use

2 cups Light Vanilla ice cream




Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick aluminum foil, making sure to leave enough overhang on the sides.  Set aside.


In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.  Scrape down the sides as needed.


In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cornstarch.


With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture to wet ingredients and beat until combined.  Gently fold in 1/2 cup of the Fruity Pebbles cereal using a rubber spatula.


Press the cookie dough evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until very lightly browned on top.  Cool completely on a wire rack.


Spread ice cream evenly over cookie base in the baking pan.  Top with remaining 1/2 cup of cereal.  Lightly press cereal into ice cream.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until set, at least 2 hours.


When ready to serve, lift foil out of pan and cut into 16 2-inch squares.

Let Jersey Artisan Distillery Bring the Rum

When asked, "If you could wake up tomorrow and do anything, what would it be?, Brant Braue answered that he would open a distillery. A few months later, during a chance encounter with attorney Krista Haley, his dream became became reality. Today it holds the name Jersey Artisan Distillery.

Braue's Busted Barrel Rum, in Silver and Dark varieties, is available in stores and restaurants around New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., and Maryland. Both have been awarded Silver Medals at the New York World Wine and Spirits Competition for the unparalleled flavor they bring to classic cocktails—a Pina Colada or a Dark and Stormy. But Braue is not done yet. He plans to expand his collection to bourbon, gin, vodka, and whiskey, to create his own line of spirits made from quality ingredients.

For a fresh take on punch at your Labor Day bash, follow this simple recipe using either of JAD's Busted Barrel Rums. It's ideal for large groups and can be personalized to any palette.


Jersey Fresh


Fill a punchbowl with ice.  Pour in 1 bottle of Busted Barrel Rum (Silver or Dark, whichever you prefer) and 2 bottles of Blue J Syrups handcrafted cocktail syrups (any flavor you like, they're all delicious; facebook.com/BlueJSyrups).  Add 1-2 liters of club soda.

The Grand Finale for Your Party

A glass of crisp white wine is the perfect refreshment on a hot end-of-summer afternoon. So is a velvety scoop of your favorite ice cream. But now you can indulge your guests with the best of both: Artisan "sorbae" from Frosae that contains real wine from local Long Island Vineyards. With flavors from Elegant White to Royal Red and Chocolate Merlot, this treat will satisfy even the connoisseurs in the crowd. And at 110-160 calories per serving, Frosae "sorbae" is the guilt-free dessert for adults that's bound to bring your Labor Day meal to an immaculate close. Order online for next-day delivery and store in the freezer until you're ready to surprise friends and family with a dessert that's deliciously boozy.  frosae.com

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